Review + Giveaway: Canova Pasticceria Italian Bakery

Linda Hoang - November 7, 2016

Explore Edmonton: There’s a Dog Restaurant in Edmonton, Canada and it’s Paw-some!

Linda Hoang - November 7, 2016

Christmas in November Guide: Make the Most of Your Weekend!

Linda Hoang - November 7, 2016
Canova Pasticceria Italian Bakery
Christmas in November

Have you heard of Christmas in November? Have you been? 

Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a getaway like no other! It’s 4 days of Christmas – in November. Ha! Part holiday party, food conference, food festival and national park getaway – at Christmas in November you eat like royalty, are treated like royalty, learn holiday recipes from some of Canada’s best chefs and celebrate some of the best parts of the holidays like being with family and friends (new and old), the food, the wine, the decor, entertainment, and more! 

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last three years as a Gastropost ambassador, sharing recipes and weekend recaps along with lots of social media posts live as my weekend unfolds. 

Christmas in November

Feeling so festive at Christmas in November.

It’s truly such a special event to participate in. 

This year (2016), there are 1,500 people registered over 10 days (3 packages to choose from – first weekend, mid-week, or final weekend).

While Christmas in November’s audience tends to be predominantly female (lots of mom/daughters/grandmothers, girlfriends or sister groups), I’ve seen more and more men attend each year that I’ve been there. In fact, this year there are 100 men attending including Mike – who if possible, loves Christmas in November even more than I do! 

Below, you can check out my tweets from this weekend, see my tips/guide to make the most of your Christmas in November experience, view more photos, and enter my giveaway to win a bunch of great cook books and other CIN swag! 

Twitter Recaps: 

Session Highlights: 

Here are just a few notes from the sessions I attended with Chef Vikram Vij, Mairlyn Smith, Mark McEwan, Emily Richards and Elizabeth Baird, Michael Olson and Jan Hansen!

  • There are 7 Signature Alberta Foods: beef, Saskatoon berries, canola, bison, honey, red fife wheat and root vegetables like beets, turnips and potatoes. Did you know: Alberta is the 5th largest producer of honey in the world
  • Masala is a blend of different spices, cooked with onions, ginger and garlic. Think of masalas like tomato sauce. It’s the key to Indian food
  • When making masalas, do it beforehand (like on a weekend) and in bigger batches, then pull out as needed when you’re cooking throughout the week
  • When cooking gnocchi, you really need to make sure your water is boiling. The bubbling of the water keeps the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom
  • Octopus heads are too tough to eat – it’s not enjoyable. Even the professionals have tried to make it work and it doesn’t
  • When cooking duck breast, be sure to score the skin – this keeps it from shrinking as much during cooking. You always want to use high heat when cooking duck
  • Loin chops are actually cheaper than ribs but for some reason North America is obsessed with ribs even though they have less meat – whereas loins have more meat
  • The best and simplest BBQ sauce you’ll ever make? Mix equal parts hot dog mustard, cheap white vinegar and brown sugar
  • If your spices are older than a year, they’ve lost their freshness and you should toss ‘em – otherwise your cooking won’t have the same punch to it
  • The smaller you dice your ingredients, the more flavour there is
  • Always measure at eye level
  • Use parchment paper to roll out any type of dough – less flour you use means the product will be less dry in the end and parchment paper ensures no sticking
  • When you’re creaming butter in baking, you want the butter to develop little horned tips – that’s how you know it’s ready 

Christmas in November Guide (2016) 

Christmas in November

Meal after meal, session after session – Christmas in November will keep you busy!

  • Be flexible with your schedule

When you register for Christmas in November, you’re registering for different chef/food/drink craft/decor sessions similar to a conference. On your arrival day, there’s a welcome party then your second and third days includes three session options plus breakfast, lunch, dinner per day. Your fourth/departure day also includes one session in the morning, plus brunch. The days can become quite jam-packed. 

Know that although you registered for one session, swapping sessions/attending others is totally OK too. You might find people rave about a session that you weren’t initially signed up for, it’s okay to mix and match.

It’s also okay not to schedule yourself into every session slot! You’re paying for the sessions but you’re also paying for a nice getaway – take some time to rest and relax in the super picturesque setting of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. 

Christmas in November

Sharman (Passion for Pork), Chef Jan Hansen (Hotel Arts Group in Calgary), and me!

  • Make friends with chefs, Fairmont JPL staff, your table mates 

Tom, James, Yannick – these three were just a few of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge staffers we made friends with. They’re so attentive and so friendly, it’s hard not to. It’s also hard not to make friends with the table mates you’re assigned to! And the chefs – some of these chefs are really famous – you might find it intimidating to approach them outside of their sessions but all of the chef/presenters I’ve met at Christmas in November have been so sweet, so welcoming, so open to chatting.

Make friends with the people you meet during your Christmas in November package, they’re such a big part of the memories you’ll make! 

Christmas in November

Ho ho ho … looking fancy with Santa!

  • Bring your best, Christmassiest attire 

Not sure what to wear to Christmas in November? Bring your best, Christmassiest (that’s a word) attire! The 2nd and 3rd day dinners are pretty swanky – you’d be more out of place if you weren’t dressed up. The 3rd day dinner (Gala Dinner) also features Christmas photos with Santa Claus so there’s another reason to look your best! On your arrival day/welcome party, you’re also encouraged to wear a Silly Christmas Sweater and some people really go all out! Have fun with it! 

Christmas in November

Anna and Michael Olson’s delicious gougeres!

  • Visit other sessions when yours is done to get more samples 

This is my “pro” Christmas in November tip. As if all the included meals you’re getting isn’t enough for food, I love it when a session wraps up and you head over to the other session rooms to see what samples they’ve got going on. Anna and Michael Olson’s Passion for Pork session usually has a ton of leftovers at the end of the session.

Other sessions share samples throughout – not necessarily all at the end, so ask other people what the sample situation is like in the sessions they attend to chart your own maximizing-food-intake-plan, lol. 

Christmas in November

Duo of Alberta Pork and Tenderloin at Christmas in November!

  • Try the vegetarian option to switch things up a bit 

Speaking of all that food – another “pro tip” is that you can request a vegetarian meal for your lunch or dinner just to have a lighter option. This is usually most handy for people who are working all 10 days at Christmas in November (including the chef/presenters) so to alleviate some of the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling, and also heavy food feeling, substituting your meal for a vegetarian option can be nice.

All the lunch/dinner meals at Christmas in November are centered around Taste Alberta proteins like Alberta Chicken, Alberta Pork, Alberta Beef and Alberta Turkey (who are Christmas in November sponsors) and they’re incredible but let’s say you’re with a friend/spouse or bigger group – having a few order the vegetarian option is a nice way to ‘try it all’ :) 

Christmas in November

Hit the dance floor – then find an after party!

  • Keep the party going after dinner 

Christmas in November days start early and can end real late – again it’s up to you how much you want to jam pack your day but if you’re looking for some more fun after dinner (and the dance floor), you’ve got some options!

New this year you’ve got the Man Cabin to check out. After dinner, people headed to the Man Cabin to play foosball, air hockey, drink and mingle. Lots of people head out to the lodge lobby and bar to keep the party going. There’s no reason you can’t invite people back to your cabin for your own late night party (in fact, there’s a group of ladies who come every year that apparently host a pretty famed after-dinner party! Mike attended while I was sleeping this year, lol). 

So that’s just a few things I’d suggest to help you make the most of your CIN weekend. You can also check out my 2015 tips here (which I still think are valid – but I tried to share a few different ones this year). 

And now – for the giveaway!  

Christmas in November Giveaway

Win all of this stuff!

** GIVEAWAY **

Enter to win a Christmas in November swag bag featuring:

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post, telling me what you love most about Christmas and what aspect of Christmas in November you’re most interested in! 
    • Note: you must leave a comment on this post in order to qualify to win!
  • Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
  • Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
  • Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
  • Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)
  • Like my Facebook Page: Lindork – Linda Hoang
  • Share this tweet:
    • Christmas in November #JasperCIN @fairmontJPL looks amazing! Hope I win @lindork’s #cookbook giveaway. http://bit.ly/2fxCFUg #yeg #yegfood
    • Note: You can tweet this daily for more entries!

Comments are moderated so if yours doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry. 

Please let me know which entries you’ve done in the comments too.

I’ll pick a random winner out of all entries after the contest closes on Friday, November 18, 2016. 

If you’re interested in seeing even more photos from my Christmas in November weekend, here’s a gallery!

Photos from Christmas in November

« 1 of 3 »

Check out the Gastropost Christmas in November website here for more recipes and recaps from other Gastropost ambassadors too!

Linda

Follow lindork on Instagram

Add lindorkyeg on Snapchat!

Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. My stay at Christmas in November was complimentary as I was a guest of Postmedia / acting as a Gastropost ambassador. 

43 comments

  1. I love spending time with my family and friends at Christmas time – everyone is always so happy. I think the different sessions at Christmas in November interest me the most – I love to learn from others so hearing tips would be great.

  2. I’ve followed you and JPL on twitter and liked your facebook page and completed the daily tweet.

  3. Amazing, I love reading this recap every year haha, it’s a November tradition. I love the food, baking, festive lights and everyone just being in a good mood over the holidays. I’ve done all of the following:

    – Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
    – Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
    – Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
    – Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)
    – Like my Facebook Page: Lindork – Linda Hoang

  4. I love everything about Christmas (except the snow and cold): food, family, celebrating, gift-giving, sharing time with important people in your life, oh and wine. That’s part of Christmas, right? I followed all the instructions…just any good stalker would do. Cheers!

  5. I love how happy everyone is around Christmas! I think I’d be most excited about trying all the samples at Christmas in November.

  6. I love all of the holiday baking! :) I have to say that all of the Christmas in November sessions look great. It’s nice that you can be really interactive with the chefs vs just sitting & watching.

  7. My favorite thing about Christmas is the family time and I would love to attend Christmas in November because of all the amazing food!

    ~Jonnie

  8. I enjoy all the decorations and sparkle at Christmas, the baking is always a pleasure both mine and all the lovely friends who share their yummy creations.

  9. Oh my goodness I would love to attend this! My fav part I’m sure would be the festive atmosphere that is sooo contagious and fun and all the food as I love food!;)

  10. I love the big Christmas dinner with my family. We all wear the hats you get out of the Christmas crackers & everyone loves my Mom’s sausage stuffing. I would love to go to Christmas in November, for the food, courses, scenery & to get in the Christmas spirit. :)

  11. I did all the entries (instagram and twitter names are @mithalou and facebook name is Melissa Louise) and my favorite part of Christmas is spending time with family and baking (sorry forgot to answer that above). Thanks for the great post and for the contest!

  12. A friend’s mother would make going to the Christmas in Nov an annual trek. She always came back bragging about how good a time she had. I always kept saying that I would have to try it. Unfortunately it still hasn’t happened. As for Christmas at that time of year I think is a great idea. It lets you celebrate when there is so much less going on. I find myself always exhausted by the time that the festivities roll up that I don’t know whether I’ve truly enjoyed myself because it is just suddenly over, lol. I think I will take it a lot slower this year! Regs, Bernice

  13. I’m looking forward to doing an activity Advent calendar with my kids this year (ie sleep under the Christmas tree, go see lights, read the Christmas story, bake cookies together, etc.) As for CIN, I will go one year, but for now I love hearing about the meals and the hands-on learning that you get to do!

    I’ve completed all the entries…thanks for the contest!

  14. Christmas is all about being with family, celebrating traditions and of course eating delicious foods! I’ve attended CIN and I loved the informative sessions, meeting Chef’s and other presenters, tasting new foods, crafting unique decorations all while enjoying the ambiance and beauty of Jasper Park Inn with other attendees. Well worth it to attend.
    I liked your FB page as I am not on Twitter or Instagram. Looks like you and Mike enjoyed every minute Linda!

  15. I love the excitement of getting ready for Christmas. I would love to attend CIN one of these days! I love seeing the chefs prepare their dishes in a smaller environment and the opportunity to chat with them more.

  16. Also did these:
    Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
    Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
    Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
    Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)

  17. I love the session highlights you’ve given here! My favourite part of Chrisymas is making homemade eggnog and just loading it up with rum, lol! I would love to attend Christmas in November to get amazing tips and techniques from some of Canada’s best chefs!

  18. My favorite part about Christmas is the food, I love cooking and hosting family and friends. Attending Christmas in November is on my bucket list for 2017 to check out Anna and Michael Olson’s sessions, or one of the Food network stars. Your post makes me want to go even more. I completed all the follows and likes.

  19. I love spending quality time with family and friends! That’s what Christmas is all about for me. The part that appeals to me most about CIN would be the baking tips. I’m pretty much the worlds worst baker!

  20. For me, spending time with family and taking part in our annual traditions together are what I love most about Christmas. I would love the chance to attend Christmas in November – Jasper Park Lodge is such a beautiful setting and we always enjoy our stays there. We even spent part of our honeymoon at JPL! Along with the scenery, I think the food and having the opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s top chefs would be the biggest highlights for me. I’ve completed all of the entry tasks – keeping my fingers crossed!

  21. The best part of Christmas is seeing old friends. My parents’ friends have kids about my age but as we’ve grown up, we’ve moved away. Christmas is the only time that we all make it back and see each other and it’s always great to catch up! Best part of CIN would be trying new foods! I follow your twitter account and liked your twitter page.

  22. I love the session highlights you’ve given here! My favourite part of Chrisymas is making homemade eggnog and just loading it up with rum, lol! I would love to attend Christmas in November to get amazing tips and techniques from some of Canada’s best chefs! ( I tweet as @Sky_cooks)

  23. I love just hanging out with friends and family at Christmas! It is always a relaxing time and a good break from everything else going on.

    As for CIN I would love the classes especially any with Anna Olson, who I love! She was one of the first food network chefs I ever followed. I am a true fan of hers.

    Completed all other entries. ;)

  24. I love doing as much baking as I can for Christmas. I enjoy the diversity of Christmas in November, from food tips, crafts, decor and mixology. What fun!

Leave a Reply